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N. Koreans Bound for S. Korea

September 11, 2002

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BEIJING (AP) _ Fifteen North Koreans left a German government school in Beijing, a German official said Wednesday. The official wouldn’t say where they went, but South Korean officials said they were bound for Seoul by way of an unidentified third country.

The North Koreans had been inside the school compound since jumping over a wall on Sept. 3.

``They are no longer on the territory of the compound,″ a German embassy spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Plans called for the North Koreans to be flown about of Beijing early in the morning, said a South Korean Foreign Ministry official in Seoul, speaking on condition of anonymity. He declined to say whether they had left China or provide additional details.

Also Wednesday, another group of at least 21 North Korean asylum-seekers left South Korea’s Embassy and an embassy official said they were to fly out of Beijing. He wouldn’t say where they were going.

Reporters outside the South Korean Embassy saw the North Koreans board a bus and leave about 1:30 p.m., accompanied by two embassy limousines.

China’s Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment on the status of either group.

Chinese and German officials said last week they had agreed on what to do with the group, but did not offer details.

Dozens of North Koreans who sought asylum in foreign diplomatic missions have been allowed to travel to South Korea after Chinese authorities confirmed their identities.

As many as 19 other North Koreans are in Chinese captivity. Government spokesman have said they have no information on their status.

A group of as many as 11 were detained Aug. 31 in the northeastern city of Changchun while preparing to board a train to Beijing, according to refugee activists abroad.

On Sept. 2, eight people believed to be North Koreans were detained after Chinese guards blocked a dozen people trying to climb into a diplomatic apartment compound that houses the Ecuadoran Embassy.

Update hourly